Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster Summary

From the good folks at NRDC.
Today’s summary
The gloves are coming off in the investigation into what happened on the April 20 Gulf oil spill explosion that caused the worst environmental disaster in US history. A contractor on the Deepwater Horizon when the explosion occurred is accusing BP of interfering with efforts to halt the spill. He testified BP stood in the way of efforts to use a robot that would have closed a device needed to stop the spill. That’s only one side of a very long story, and it may take as long as it takes the oil to completely disappear from the Gulf to figure out what really happened. A new report indicates that the oil industry has yet to adopt BP’s spill lessons that may be essential to preventing future oil spills. Meanwhile, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, in charge of the Gulf coast rehabilitation, says that billions of dollars in oil spill penalties should go to the region to pay to clean it up and restore it. Claims czar Kenneth Feinberg just made it easier for people not within the proximity of the oil spill to collect payment for damages. And Billy Nungesser, president of the Plaquemines Parish who became the face of the people along the Gulf coast and a frequent critic of lame efforts to fix the problems, easily won re-election to his job.

Quotable Quote
“We never exercised our control over the firefighting efforts,” Capt. James Hanzalik, chief of incident response for the Coast Guard’s 8th District. “We’re not trained firefighters.”

National News

AP: Contractor: BP interfered with stopping oil spill
Now we’re getting down to serious allegations over the oil spill disaster. At a hearing Monday, Doug Martin, president of Smit Salvage Americas, which was hired to help try to save the Deepwater Horizon after it exploded, blew the whistle on BP. He testified before a federal investigative panel that BP interfered with efforts to use a robot to try to close the device that failed to stop the Gulf oil spill because of concerns over heat buildup from the burning rig.

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AP: Coast Guard couldn’t stop the rig from sinking
Capt. James Hanzalik, chief of incident response for the Coast Guard’s 8th District, told a federal investigative panel Monday there was nothing more his agency could have done to prevent the Deepwater Horizon from sinking in the frantic hours after the oil rig exploded on April 20. He said there was one upbeat note: 100 people escaped the rig explosion alive is a sign the evacuation effort went fairly well.

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Los Angeles Times: Mabus: Billions in oil spill penalties should go to region
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the Obama administration’s lead on the Gulf restoration plan, is urging Congress to pass new laws that would “dedicate a significant amount” of the BP oil spill penalties to restore the Gulf coast. The money would be used to renew the region’s environment and economy and address the mental health needs of its residents.

Read more,0,6349949.story Feinberg: Proximity has no role in payment
Gulf spill victims are getting a new break from claims czar Kenneth Feinberg. He announced on Monday that he would no longer consider proximity to the oil spill in determining whether a claim is eligible for payment. “I have concluded that a geographic test to determine eligibility regarding economic harm due to the oil spill is unwarranted,” Feinberg said.

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Check this one out, too

AP: Oil industry has yet to adopt BP spill lessons
Oil industry and government officials could get caught flat-footed again by another deep-water blowout in the coming months because they have yet to incorporate many of the lessons learned during the BP disaster, the Associated Press reports. It could be another year before a bigger, better cap-and-siphon containment system is developed to choke off leaks. Another problem: Existing skimmers still don’t have the capacity to quickly suck up millions of gallons of oil flowing at once.

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Wall Street Journal: BP shines in the bond market
So what if BP was responsible for the worst environmental disaster in US history. So what if the oil giant is responsible for billions of dollars in damages and the personal claims from Gulf coast victims. The bond market responded on Monday with a sound vote of confidence for BP on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Huffington Post: BP may have violated US sanctions on Iran trade
It’s just another headache for BP in a long line of Excedrin days. BP is one of 16 international companies that may have violated U.S. sanctions against selling gas to Iran, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. Investigators at the GAO claim that BP sold the petroleum between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010,

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Huffington Post: Why offshore wind should replace offshore drilling
Offshore wind on the Atlantic Coast — where much of our population is largely focused — can generate nearly 30% more electricity than offshore oil and gas resources in that area, combined. Harvesting this energy would cost about $36 billion less than offshore oil and gas production, while creating about three times as many jobs, Jessie Savitz writes.

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Buffalo News: Next Time
It should be the clear responsibility of some identifiable government agency to make sure the response capability is there, well-tuned, fully staffed and ready to go when it is needed. Because it will be needed, the Buffalo News writes.

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Harvard Crimson: Drill again but seek alternatives
Though we advocate the lifting of the moratorium and find offshore drilling with strongly enforced regulations a viable option at the present time, it is worthwhile to consider the possibilities of alternative forms of energy for the future, the Harvard Crimson writes.

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Regional Billy Nungesser easily wins re-election
Republican Billy Nungesser, president of the Plaquemines Parish, became the go-to guy for the media in the worst days of the Gulf oil spill. He was leading critic of efforts to clean up the oil spill from BP’s well and represented the voice of the people in the Gulf. On Saturday, he easily won re-election as president of his coastal Louisiana parish.

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Times-Picayune: Bank economist predicts spill impact to linger in La.
Public and private sector tea readers are looking closely at the Gulf region to see if the devastating impact of the oil spill will linger. And it’s clear that it will. Job losses associated with the BP oil spill and the ensuing drilling moratorium could hurt the Louisiana economy as it pulls out of the national recession, one chief economist said this week.

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New York Times: Military orders less dependence on fossil fuels
In a sign of the times we live in and a reflection of a new reality, the military is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable energy to decrease its need to transport fossil fuels. The move is prompted by increasing attacks on US supplies in Afghanistan, but it could certainly have ramifications across military operations around the world. “There are a lot of profound reasons for doing this, but for us at the core it’s practical,” said Navy secretary Ray Mabus.

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